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NEWS | Aug. 2, 2022

New 405th AFSB commander conducts APS-2 site visit to Netherlands, Belgium

By Cameron Porter 405th Army Field Support Brigade

As the new commander of the 405th Army Field Support Brigade, it’s important that Col. Crystal Hills visits the Army Prepositioned Stocks-2 worksites under her command and control and meets with the people who work there.

Hills conducted a battlefield circulation mission to the APS-2 sites at Eygelshoven and Zutendaal, Belgium, July 28-29, and met with the leaders of the two sites as well as the battalion command team and primary staff of Army Field Support Battalion-Benelux.

Accompanied by her senior enlisted advisor, interim Command Sgt. Major. Randy Leyba, the commander of the 405th AFSB received several briefings from AFSBn-Benelux and the two APS-2 sites. More importantly, she walked the sites to see firsthand their capabilities. During these site walks, Hills took time to speak with many of the employees – members of the Dutch Ministry of Defense, Belgium local national employees, U.S. Army civilians and Soldiers.

Bryan Stinekens led a demonstration where he and a team of six Belgium local national employees at Zutendaal APS-2 worksite showed Hills how they open and inspect a Multi Role Bridge Company interior bay using three common bridge transport trucks and three bridge adapter pallets. The quality assurance specialist said he and the team of ground support equipment mechanics, to include one welder, are in the process of inspecting and servicing all the MRBC equipment, which deployed to Poland during DEFENDER-Europe 22 earlier this year.

“We do not have a water basin (at APS-2 Zutendaal) to do the services and inspections on this equipment so that’s why we’re opening them up on land,” said Stinekens. “To service and inspect the bays, they need to be opened so we can do pressure tests to check for any leaks and small holes in the pontoons. We’ve already found some, and our welder is patching them up.”

Stinekens said the first bay the GSE team opened during their initial training took about 30 minutes, but since then they’ve cut the time down to under 10.

“During the last training session with (U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command) I believe opening a bay took about 10 minutes with a crew of ten,” Stinekens said. “But since then we’ve further improved the process and started using dunnage to download and open the bays on, and now we are much more proficient. By combining some of the tasks using a highly-skilled crew of six, we can now open a bay well under the 10-minute mark.”

While at the Eygelshoven APS-2 site, Hills was escorted around the installation by the site director, Gregory Hahn. During the visit, Hahn showed her the capabilities of the Eygelshoven maintenance team – both light and heavy maintenance. He also showed her how they handle warehouse storage – configure for combat and configure for movement – as well as sensitive items storage.    

“I think it gives her a good opportunity to see the variances and how the different sites operate,” Hahn said. “It also demonstrates the capabilities of these APS-2 sites, what we bring to the table and how the workforce operates at these locations.”

Hahn said the Dutch and U.S. workforce at Eygelshoven has done a lot over the last few months outside of the team’s normal maintenance requirements and preparation for training exercises, like DEFENDER-Europe.

“For the group to be recognized for this by the commander, it gives real meaning to the work done and increases morale and overall effectiveness,” he said.

Chris Hatch is the director of supply and transportation at the Zutendaal APS-2 site. He said an important part of the tour at Zutendaal was showing the 405th AFSB commander the difference between a warehouse facility that has been upgraded and one that has not.

The team showed the commander a couple of warehouse facilities and how they’ve been upgraded – compared to the older 1980s and 1990s warehouses, which she also saw. The upgraded warehouses have new doors, lighting, trickle chargers, fire suppression systems, controlled humidity and air purification, said Hatch.

“The commander needs to know what the capabilities are on the ground here at Zutendaal (and Eygelshoven) so she’ll have a better understanding of the footprint,” Hatch said.

When the 405th AFSB is called upon to provide APS-2 support, “she now knows exactly where to go in order to get it,” he added.

The Zutendaal APS-2 worksite is comprised of 28 warehouses with about 990,000 square feet of space, plus an additional 77,000 square yards of outdoor staging, 27 maintenance bays 12,000 square feet of hazardous material storage, and more.  During recent operations in support of the defense of Ukraine, APS-2 Zutendaal prepared and shipped over 5,000 vehicles and equipment pieces forward.

The Eygelshoven APS-2 worksite is comprised of nine warehouses with about 450,000 square feet of space, plus about 50,000 square feet of outdoor staging, seven maintenance bays, an 18.5-ton crane, 32 converted maintenance bays, 21,000 square feet of hazardous material storage, and more. At the earliest stages of the operation, more than 400 vehicles and equipment pieces were shipped in support of the defense of Ukraine – the first APS-2 stock to be sent forward.

In total, the APS-2 sites at Eygelshoven and Zutendaal – under the mission command of AFSBn-Benelux and the 405th AFSB – prepared, deployed and issued over 45 percent of all the APS-2 equipment in theater as part of a concentrated effort to assist U.S. European Command with readiness, deter further Russian aggression and support NATO Allies and partner nations in the European theater.

Battalion Benelux is one of four battalions assigned to the 405th AFSB. The battalion provides mission command of APS-2 operations at Eygelshoven and Zutendaal, and is charged with providing and coordinating receipt, transfer, storage and maintenance of APS-2. This enables commanders to conduct unified action and perform a full range of military operations in support of U.S. Army Europe and Africa and joint forces.

The 405th AFSB is assigned to U.S. Army Sustainment Command and under the operational control of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command, U.S. Army Europe and Africa. The brigade is headquartered in Kaiserslautern, Germany, and provides materiel enterprise support to U.S. Forces throughout Europe and Africa – providing theater sustainment logistics; synchronizing acquisition, logistics and technology; and leveraging the U.S. Army Materiel Command materiel enterprise to support joint forces. For more information on the 405th AFSB, visit the official website at www.afsbeurope.army.mil and the official Facebook site at www.facebook.com/405thAFSB.